edlee_swornin.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials today Monday community benefit districts after a recent report found they tend to be cleaner and safer than other similar neighborhoods in the city.

The report by the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development looked at the community benefit districts, public-private partnerships in which property and business owners pay special assessments toward the improvement and maintenance of a neighborhood.

San Francisco’s first CBD was created at Union Square in 1999 and has since expanded to 13 around the city, including at Fisherman’s Wharf, Central Market, Civic Center, Ocean Avenue and in Noe Valley, the site of today’s news conference.

The report found that CBDs had cleaner streets than similar ones in their supervisorial districts, and that the neighborhoods also experienced declining crime compared to citywide trends.

Lee said the community benefit districts were about “people rediscovering and reinvesting in their neighborhoods.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes the Noe Valley CBD, said the neighborhood benefits from the public-private partnership.

“It makes all the difference in the world,” Wiener said. “You have every day, 7 days a week, eyes and ears, people who are in the neighborhood cleaning it, helping to keep it safe, who notice something that may be going wrong before it gets to a breaking point.”

Noe Valley Association CBD executive director Debra Niemann said the partnership is “more than just planting trees or putting out a park bench.”

She said, “It changes the feeling people have about a neighborhood. It gives them ownership, it gives them pride, it gives them a great sense of belonging.”

The success of the community benefit districts is leading city officials to create more of them. Several are in the planning and formation process, including along Broadway, The Embarcadero and in the Rincon Hill neighborhood, according to the mayor’s office.

A copy of the report on CBDs is available online at

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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